A favourite saying here is “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Calgary’s weather is notoriously changeable, and it’s not so rare to see a year’s sampling over the course of a single day, with a corresponding range of temperature — at most any time of year. This winter we’ve had it colder and snowier than most, so we’re certainly all looking forward to more sun and warmth. This past week had us excited with melting that formed lakes on some streets as the storm system struggled to keep up with the sudden thaw. Tonight, however, we’re facing a snowfall warning that could see 10 to 15 centimetres (4 – 6 inches) of fresh fluff on the ground by morning.
So why the weather report? Well, tonight is also the night of the Perigee Moon.
Our moon’s orbit around the Earth is not perfectly round, and varies by about 50,000km. Perigee describes its closest point to us and tonight that coincides with a full moon. What this means is that the moon will appear about 14% larger and 30% brighter than other full moons. It also means that astronomers and photographers are buzzing.
In all honesty, full moon photos don’t thrill me. I find moons at different stages more visually interesting components of an image, but the buzz was contagious. So out I went, certain that today’s cloud cover would not allow for a clear shot, but hoping that even a hazy, foggy moon could be interesting. Knowing roughly where and when to expect the moon’s rise, I made a test shot:
That orange glow is the reflection of so many high pressure sodium streetlights on the heavy cloud cover. I waited, but there was no hope of seeing any moon tonight.
Because photographers can get into a rut, I’ve seen it recommended that they look behind themselves from time to time. Having photographed enough wildlife at close quarters, it’s already a habit for me, not because I’m looking for a new angle but because I need to make sure nothing is creeping up on me (like the lion pride that settled in the grass about me while I was far too intent on the elephant playing in the water).
Knowing that nothing was coming of the moon shot, I pointed my camera 180 degrees the other direction:
Welcome to the home of the bobsled, luge, and ski jumping events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Are you up for some night skiing?